"...appears for a moment..."
"You don't even know what your life tomorrow will be! You are like a puff of smoke, which appears for a moment and then disappears." (James 4:14)
I love the fact that the camera can capture a moment. Every event is a series of moments but often our experience is such that individual moments are rolled into one experience without much sense of the unique moments involved. This particular moment captured by the camera is part of a trick that one of our youth was performing late one evening for the rest of the group from our church. He swung high in the air from the playground swing then left the swing, did a flip in mid-air, and landed on his feet (sometimes). The camera caught him upside down, suspended in mid-air. I can't look at this picture without noticing just how vulnerable this youth was as he performed his trick for the rest of us in the group. What if he had landed like this instead of on his feet? Yet he performed his trick several times with abandon and delight, seemingly oblivious to the danger of the moments like this one captured by the camera.
Certainly there are some things that might seem foolish or irresponsible to risk. However, sometimes I'm convinced we shy away from things we ought to be doing because we focus too much on the risks of the moments that might be part of the greater experience. I'm concerned that we hesitate to offer help to others because we think too much about what might happen if we get too close. I'm concerned that we hesitate to speak against injustice in its many forms because we think too much about what might happen if others disagree.
The writer of James is right, our lives are, "like a puff of smoke, which appears for a moment and then disappears." We are so very vulnerable every moment of every day. Sometimes I like to say that we're all one heartbeat away from a crisis. Yet that awareness is not meant to deter us, but rather, to remind us that we are God's children, that regardless of the risks and outcome of any particular moment, God has us now and will have us always because of the love shown for us in Christ. That awareness might help us to avoid over-thinking the risk of any particular moment, and get on with the task of loving others like we've been loved by God through Christ. I pray that God will help me work through my hesitation and leap (like the youth in the photo) when it comes to loving others. How about you?
Blessings and Peace,
Pastor, Cross Lanes United Methodist Church
Cross Lanes, West Virginia
Help save lives! For more information on my new book, "A Relentless Hope: Surviving the Storm of Teen Depression," visit www.survivingteendepression.com.